Tag Archives: jung

Facing the Persona

wpid-20140917_173544.jpgVariations of the process go by different names, and those who teach the process come from many different schools, philosophies, and religions.

If you follow the Fourth Way teachings of Gurdjieff, you might call the process “facing the false self.” If you like the Jungian paradigm, you might call it “facing the persona.” If you are a follower of Tyler Durden, you might call it “facing your khakis.” If you are into Qabalah, you know it as facing yourself at Binah or, if you are doing Qliphotic work, an experience resulting from a meditation on Satariel.  Into Alchemy?  This is Saturn, Fire, part of your Magnum Opus.  And if you are a Christian, this is Humility, the process of shedding your vanity (as in Matthew 6:2, or the entire book of Ecclesiastes).

Whatever you call it, facing your persona is an important step in realizing who you really are.   As the bard said, “All the world’s a stage and each of us is a player.”  Everybody wears masks. I challenge you to take yours off for just five minutes.

Dim the lights and sit down in your favorite chair.  Let your eyelids droop.  Breathe slowly and deeply and calm yourself utterly.  When you are very relaxed, close your eyes and imagine that you are wearing a mask.  Think about it deeply, and imagine that your mask contains all of the things you do and say — to fit in, to be successful, to perform in your chosen fields of work and play, to impress others, and so on.  When you have that image solidly in your mind’s eye, imagine that you are removing your mask.  Look at the mask.  Examine it thoroughly in your mind’s eye.  What do you think of it?  How does it feel to have it off?

Do you really want to put it back on?

Tom Laughlin and the Legacy of Billy Jack


My Billy Jack Freedom School t-shirt.

Earlier this month, on December 12th, it came to mind that it was the one year anniversary of the passing of Tom Laughlin.  For the past couple of weeks I’ve been thinking hard about what I might say.

I suppose that nowadays most folks don’t even know who Tom Laughlin is, don’t remember Billy Jack, and might wonder why I’d remember or care.  Laughlin was the man who created and portrayed the character Billy Jack, as well as wrote and directed the movies in which he starred.

Laughlin’s Billy Jack is a strange figure in a series of very unconventional movies.  The character, and the films, are the fusion cuisine of the independent movie world.   It makes no sense how good it is to have Korean BBQ and kimchi on a taco, or curried rice in sushi.  It also makes no sense how amazing it is to watch Billy Jack, a former Green Beret, defend hippies from evil preppies in cowboy hats.  With the acumen of a super chef, Laughlin threw everything in the pot.  Billy Jack is a “half-breed”  who uses “karate” (actually Hapkido, thanks to the choreography and stunt doubling of Bong Soo Han).  He’s a man of peace who cannot keep his temper, a strong and quiet loner given to the occasional soliloquy, a crazy mix of cultures, perspectives, and personalities.

And the movies are just as schizophrenic as their main character, slipping back and forth between genres as easily as a shuttle through a Navajo loom.  These things are equal parts pulp, action, drama, and political thriller.  You might see kids singing kumbaya in this act, and a violent rape scene with exposed breasts in the next.  One movie he’d be karate-chopping a pedophile.  In the next he’d get appointed to a Congressional seat.  You never knew if he was going to go on a vision quest or barricade himself in a building with a rifle.

And so you see, Billy Jack is America in all it’s bi-polar glory.

We Americans can’t agree on anything, not even what we are or what we stand for.  But dammit, we know what we are and what we like when we see it, and we flocked to the theater in the millions to see Billy Jack right wrongs in all his wacko glory.  It didn’t matter if you were a hippie or a square, a commie, a Republican or a Democrat, you were a fan.

As a kid Billy Jack inspired me to stand up against bullies and racists on the schoolyard.  Later, as a young father badly in need of exercise, discipline, and character development, Billy Jack was on my mind when I turned to Korean Karate for help (and truth be told, so was Kwai Chang Caine).  The martial arts transformed me.  They are a part of me now.  Those who knew me then no longer recognize me.

Later still, during Tom’s two presidential runs, he taught me about activism, politics, and what’s wrong with our two-party system.  He never got equal time on TV, but once the internet took off, you could watch his videos and read his articles.  He loved to punctuate his stuff  with all caps, and the old website wasn’t the greatest.  But you could just tell how much he deeply cared about his country and all its people.  Tom’s  enthusiasm and energy blasted off the webpage.

And you could also read about Jungian psychology, which just so happened to be relevant to my studies in mysticism and self exploration.  Tom was an internationally renowned expert on Jung, a sought after lecturer on the subject.  If he had never made a single movie and had never run for president, he’d still be remembered for his work in Jungian studies.

I’d like to think that if Tom was still around we’d see eye-to-eye on a lot of things.  I always fantasized that I might someday get permission from Tom to write some novels featuring his character.  With Tom gone, and his endearing wife Delores suffering from Alzheimer’s, that probably won’t ever happen.

But, like Tom and his character Billy Jack, I’ve never been one to give up just because it’s impossible.  I sent an email to his estate.  I offered to write a Billy Jack novel and donate 100% of the proceeds to the care of Delores Taylor.

What can I say?  I allowed Tom and his amazing character to inspire me.  Would I have turned out like this if I’d never met Tom or Billy?  Who knows.  I just know that lots of things will inspire you, if you’ll just let them.

Tool, Jung, Qabalah, Qliphoth

wpid-IMG_20130623_093154.jpgYou see a post on Facebook.  Some friend of yours has visited Jackson Hole, and there are pictures of mountains, barns and elk.  You yawn and, because your friend seems so excited and you want to be considerate, you click in a quick “like” and move on.

Six months later, while on a a trip out west, you get stuck at Jackson Hole Airport and there’s no plane out until the next morning.  You figure, what the heck, you’re at the only airport in America that’s actually inside a national park.  Why not go look around?

You are floored.  The scenery is incredible, the Teton Range are like no mountains you’ve ever seen before.  Every barn, every elk, and every conifer glows with significance.  You start snapping pictures with your cell phone, fully intending to put them up on Facebook as soon as you get back to the airport, because people have to see this amazing place.

And then you realize that one of your friends already did this.  They were here, they felt the same way you do now, and you ignored their pictures…


With an hour set aside to work on my forthcoming Qabalah book, I put every Tool record I own on shuffle and slipped on my headphones.  The music played, and the words flowed, until Forty-six & 2 entered the rotation.  My fingers froze.  I had heard this song a thousand times.  And although I always liked it, and could sing along through most of it, it was as if I was hearing it for the first time.

I had long ago thought through the lyrics intellectually.  I had read the Wikipedia article, already knew what the words meant, that the song’s reference to the shadow was supposedly Jungian, etc.   But, I realized, when I had previously heard the song I had never seen the DNA of creation coming down through Kether, had never been forced to face my shadow at Gamaliel and felt a change coming through.  I had not picked the necessary scabs.  Now that I was hearing the song in the wake of my Qabalah project — pathworking the twenty paths of the Sephiroth and Qliphoth — the song was real.   I was in Jackson Hole.  The mountains were breathtaking, and so were the elk and the barns.

In a sense, I am taking pictures and putting them on Facebook.  And, most likely, you are going to give them a polite thumbs up and move on.  But, if you want to know what Forty-six & 2 is really about on its deepest level, pathworking the Sephiroth and Qliphoth are an excellent way to make the discovery.

If you don’t like my route, I’m sure there is another way to reach Jackson Hole.  Perhaps someday you’ll be stuck at the airport, alone and bored, and you’ll decide to explore the surrounding park…




Aidan Kelly’s Article Pushed My Buttons

“I spend about as much time as any other well-informed person being concerned about the problems America is facing and, like everyone else, not having a clue about what I can do to help ameliorate the situation. I feel that I should be doing whatever I can. I certainly agree with Edmund Burke’s observation that evil can triumph only if good people do nothing. But evil has no objective, ontological existence. It consists entirely of the absence of the good, as darkness is merely the absence of light, not a black fog that can overwhelm the light. Only adult human beings can intend evil, and evil is always intentional. It is simply gratuitous malevolence, the intent to harm another human being (or perhaps any living being) when doing so is unnecessary. As Scott Peck argued, evil is a mental illness. It could conceivably be cured and eradicated. And that should be a goal of any and all genuine religions.”
~Opening paragraph of  Why We Must Help Those Who Cannot Help Themselves by Aidan Kelly
Aidan, I respect the work you’ve done and the places you’ve been.  I salute the successes you’ve enjoyed.  I can tell your heart’s in the right place.  But this article is just plain awful, and as much as I’d like to stay off your lawn, I have to express my feelings.  Let me begin by saying that the reason you feel clueless is that you’re standing on shaky philosophical ground.
Your definition of evil is undeveloped at best (and at the worst dead wrong).
Evil is the absence of good?  Evil is not only perpetrated by humans?  Your statements sound like ideas my first grade teacher might have taught me back in ’68, back when we all started the day by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance followed by the Lord’s Prayer.  Now we know that chimpanzees perpetrate massacres, ants wage genocidal wars, and cats torture prey they plan to kill (eventually) but never eat.  Ever been attacked by a dog?  I have, and that bitch was evil.
Tying evil — and by extension good also — to humans was was your first mistake.
People are animals.  We’re never going to make progress on any front, socially and especially environmentally, until we realize that the Great Chain of Being is one of the greatest and most damaging lies ever promulgated.  Humans are not better than animals, who are not better than plants, who are not better than insects.  Every living thing is necessary and equal in the web of life.  We’re all evolving and everything is possible.  On a long enough time line, provided we don’t exterminate them all, a Bengal tiger is going to write a book that reads like something by Anton LaVey.

Your second mistake was that you failed to distinguish between Evil (with a capital “E”) and evil (with a little “e”).  “Evil” is quite a bit different from everyday “evil.”

Jung understood this better than anyone.  As he said, “The unconscious is not just evil by nature, it is also the source of the highest good: not only dark but also light, not only bestial, semi-human, and demonic but superhuman, spiritual, and, in the classical sense of the word, ‘divine.'”  The evils (with a little “e”) you rail against later in the article, and rightly so, are better called by their specific names — perfidy, greed, maliciousness, and so on.  Those evils with a little “e” spring forth from the unconscious.  They aren’t going anywhere.

Big “E” evil is just as powerful and important as big “G” Good.  As Jung said in The Seven Sermons to the Dead, in which his supreme god was Abraxas, “What the god-sun speaketh is life. What the devil speaketh is death. But Abraxas speaketh that hallowed and accursed word which is life and death at the same time. Abraxas begetteth truth and lying, good and evil, light and darkness, in the same word and in the same act. Wherefore is Abraxas terrible.”  Jung’s vision isn’t unique.  Every pantheon has an evil deity or two, except Christianity.  But then, Jung would have remedied that by making the trinity a quaternity if he’d had his way.

In short, little “e” evil is ubiquitous, normal, not unique to humans, stems from the unconscious, and therefore can’t be eradicated.  Big “E” Evil is part of the Godhead, and therefore it can’t be eradicated either.  So it doesn’t matter whether you meant ‘evil’ or ‘Evil.’  Either way you were wrong.

You’re a gnostic.  You should know this stuff.

You used an outmoded definition of religion.

You said that eradicating evil “should be a goal of any and all genuine religions.”  As a witch, I start to look for a fire extinguisher whenever somebody starts talking about what should and should not be considered a “genuine” religion. A religion should be about whatever a religion wants to be about.
You used to be a hippie, commie, beatnik witch.  Don’t you know this stuff?

You don’t understand the rules of the game.

Your love of the Golden Rule — you even quoted Hillel to close your article! — is destroying your chances of making the world a better place.  To quote Carl Sagan from his article The Rules of the Game, “The Golden Rule is not only an unsuccessful strategy; it is also dangerous for other players, who may succeed in the short-term only to be mowed down by exploiters in the long-term.”  The Golden Rule, is well, stupid.  It just doesn’t work.

You aren’t going to have a tinker’s chance in hell of making the world a better place if you don’t understand the game.

Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t have all of the answers.  It’s just that, because I’m on solid philosophical ground, I don’t feel clueless.  I feel small and insignificant.  But with the help of my Gods, spirits, and familiars, I’ll do what I can to fight evil — the little “e” kind — as hard as I can.

You’re a Mystic? What’s That?

My fiction contains mystic themes, my martial art promotes a mystic’s mindset and my love of the environment stems from the experience of divinity through the window of the natural world.

What’s mysticism?

First of all, Pythagoras, Saint Teresa of Avila, Saint John of the Cross, Brave New World author Aldous Huxley, Beatles musician George Harrison, psychologist Carl Jung, author of the definitive work on the subject of mysticism Evelyn Underhill and most of the poets who ever lived, were all mystics.

That’s what I call good company.

Simply put, a mystic is someone in pursuit of a direct connection with the Divine.  According to the 1911 Britannica, mysticism is

“the endeavour of the human mind to grasp the divine essence or the ultimate reality of things, and to enjoy the blessedness of actual communion with the Highest.”

Some people call themselves mystics and give mysticism a bad name by making  outrageous claims, like being able to levitate or go months without eating or drinking.

That’s not mysticism.

Mysticism is about seeing, perceiving, experiencing, and perhaps communicating, with the Divine.